This may come as a surprise to Omiya Ardija fans who think he's a useless lump, but defender Takuro Nishimura is in fact quite the thinker. Recently, for example, the 29-year-old has been musing about his team's lowly position in the J1 table and the challenge of a relegation fight during the remainder of this season. He's particularly been chewing over the fact that so few teams have avoided the drop after having been in the position that the Squirrels are in at this point in the year - and the whole thing is making Taku-chan pretty darn apprehensive.
But with the J-League's top flight taking a short break for the Kirin Cup matches, does the former Urawa Reds man have so much of a reason to be down in the dumps? After all, four games ago Ardija were in a considerably worse situation than they are now. Indeed, with the benefit of hindsight, May was in fact a reasonable month for Robert Verbeek's side: they were unlucky to lose in the dying seconds at Sanfrecce Hiroshima, were worth a point against Urawa Reds and Vissel Kobe, deservedly beat Yokohama FC and fought bravely to steal a draw via Manabu Wakabayashi's delicious header at Kawasaki Frontale.
All of which puts the Squirrels level with fellow strugglers JEF United and Yokohama FC, two points behind Oita Trinita. And this is where Nishimura's concerns may well kick in. For Oita coach Pericles Chamusca and his staff at Trinita have been working hard off the field to bring in players for an injection of new talent, in the shape of well-regarded young Hiroshima forward Shunsuke Maeda and also Tsukasa Umesaki, an U20 international midfielder who was being loaned out by Oita to Grenoble in France's Ligue 2, but who has elected to return to Kyushu.
Chamusca will of course be hoping that that the arrival of Maeda and Umesaki will offer his whole squad some fresh impetus, whereas at Omiya, in contrast, all has gone quiet as far as the transfer rumour mill is concerned. Left-sided defender and trialist Takashi Hirano will need time to recover from the disastrous injury the former international suffered in his first Ardija training session, but that aside there does not seem to be a possibility of an addition being made to Verbeek's squad - which means that, for the forseeable future, Enilton, Kota Yoshihara and the Squirrels' other underperforming strikers will need to find from somewhere the goals to fire Omiya up the table.
While this thought may fill most orange fans with dread, the better news is that last season's playmaker, Daigo Kobayashi, seems at last to be working his way back to full fitness. The international midfielder - and Ardija's solitary true class act - has been missing for virtually two months solid, aside from an ill-advised and abortive return in the 2-1 defeat by Ventforet Kofu. Clearly aiming to play against Kashiwa Reysol this weekend, the talismanic Daigo is crucial to the Squirrels' hopes of survival.
And June is a crucial month, coming as it does before the longer break in the J1 schedule for the Asian Cup competition. Ardija have already beaten and drawn against Saturday's opponents Kashiwa in this year's Nabisco Cup and while Reysol will no doubt field a stronger starting XI than they did in the Cup, Robert Verbeek will know that his players can compete with one of the division's stronger teams. A home game the following week with Albirex Niigata looks like a must-win fixture, especially given the unpredictability of the next two opponents, Jubilo Iwata and Yokohama F Marinos.
The Squirrels' last match prior to the six-week interval is the return game against league leaders Gamba Osaka and thus sees Brazilian star striker and ex-Omiya legend Bare return to Saitama once again. Once again, coach Verbeek is able to look back at the opening match of the season at Gamba and take heart from the fact that his team could so nearly have had a draw rather than succumbing to a 1-0 defeat. But the reality is that Verbeek's players are now in a position where they have to perform at their very best all the time in order to secure the club's safety in the top flight.
With this in mind, seven points at least are required from June's games, to build on the progress made during May and to put pressure on the other teams around Ardija in the table. And an Omiya team with Daigo Kobayashi back and a performing central area of the pitch - Daisuke Tomita, Leandro, Yoshiyuki Kobayashi and Masato Saito - may just have the flair balanced with solidity to prevent Takuro Nishimura from having too many nightmares. Off the pitch, at least.